Recently, I visited Dubai on a business trip and got a peek into what the city had to offer for persons with blindness. They call persons with disabilities as ‘persons with determination.’ I am not sure what to make of it. If someone says that you are determined, may be, you have to take it on face value. But, I found myself wondering why they were making a big deal out of it.
Anyway, applying for a visa was easy. They have an online form, which seems accessible. I must admit that I did not fill the form myself. The illogical mental block told me to get my wife’s help. Visa came within a few days and we were ready to go.
At immigration, customs and thereafter, in Dubai, people were neither intrusive, nor helpful. The neutrality suited me well. Better to be left alone than be ill-treated like in Abu Dhabi. The terrible Abu Dhabi airport experience was playing on my head, and I was happy to enter Dubai without being troubled.
Dubai is mostly clean and has well-made roads. Most roads have walk ways, which are accessible. I walked a lot in Dubai and faced accessibility problems only in certain areas. Old Dubai is not as walking friendly as new Dubai. I did not find disabled restrooms in most places I visited, and had to depend on my friend to visit the restroom.
Most tourist places that require tickets are free for persons with determination in Dubai. I was not aware of it and did not avail the benefit at the aquarium, but availed it at the global village.
People in Dubai are not very friendly, but they are also not very rude. Except for a few bad experiences, my visit to Dubai was overall pleasant. I had one very unpleasant experience though.
One evening, I was walking in Deira creek area with friends when a car came and hit me from behind. Vehicles were not permitted in the area and I was surprised when it dashed into me. Thankfully, I was not badly hurt. The driver, a Dubai citizen, got off and started shouting.
“Can’t you see?” he asked.
“No. I can’t,” I said, extending my cane.
“You must see the car lights and move,” he warned and went on, disinterested in whatever I was trying to say.
After a minute, we decided that we have had enough and moved on. I think we walked half a kilometer when we heard someone shouting. We turned around to find the driver of the car.
“I am sorry. Very sorry,” he was saying.
He hugged me, kissed me, and let me go only after I insisted that it was alright.
Well, I think it hit him too late that I was blind and could not truly see.
Overall, my Dubai trip was pretty decent I must say. However, I don’t think the city has much to offer for persons with blindness except for the shawarmas. I probably ate a dozen shawarmas in three days.
If you are blind and are planning to visit Dubai, remember that except for some interesting incense here and there and great shawarmas, the city does not have much to offer for persons with blindness.